I cleaned out my closet this weekend, woo hoo! In the process I dug up a bunch of old tees, including an adorable t-shirt that hasn’t fit quite right since pregnancy. And so, a new sundress was born. And a new incessant request: “Mommy, I like your shirt. Please can you make it into a dress for me please please please please pretty-please-with-sugar-and-a-cherry-on-top???”
Jacinda and I love recycling t-shirts. We’ve made t-shirts into French Poufs, Football Jerserys, Two-Minute T Shirt Dresses, Five-Minute T Shirt Tunics, Toddler Harem Pants, Baby Bubble Sleeve Tees, Top Knot Baby Hats, and even Christmas Stockings.
But I think that this is my favorite old tee shirt project, because it’s SO easy, quick, and cute; the perfect little dress for summers in the yard. You don’t even have to hem it, hello, I love not-hemming.
Learn how to turn any old t-shirt into a sundress…
How to Turn any T-Shirt into a Sundress
Hold the shirt up to your child’s body and determine where the bottom of the armhole should be. Sew a line from that spot to the original side seam (use matching thread, I used a dark color so you could see). You want to make sure you don’t make a sharp point at the new armhole, gradually blend the angle into the original side seam. If you are using a really big t-shirt, like maybe dad’s old college tee or something, you can sew from the new arm opening all the way down the shirt, creating a new side seam and narrowing the dress. For tips on sewing jersey visit our post: How to Sew Knit Fabrics: Sewing with Jersey 101.
Now you want to gather the fabric along the front of the shirt, to the final width you’d like it to be (measure on your child’s chest). For details on gathering, read our post: Sewing 101: How to Gather Fabric.
Now attach a strip of double fold bias tape. Just slip it over the edge (if you are doing single-step binding, make sure the shorter side is on top), and sew in place. For a refresher on how to sew with bias tape, read this post: How to Sew with Bias Tape. I used store bought bias tape, but you could cute your t-shirt up with homemade bias tape, here’s how you make your own bias tape: How to Make Bias Tape. Also, I used 1/4″ double fold bias tape, but this will definitely be an easier project with wider tape, like 1/2″.
Now the top edges of the front and back of your sundress are both finished. Time to finish the armholes and create the ties. So cut two long pieces of bias tape (mine were 40″ each). Fold one piece in half to find the center, and pin the center of the bias tape to the center seam on the side of your shirt, enclosing the unfinished edge.
Continue to pin the bias tape around the unfinished edge of the armhole. I have these handy-dandy clover clips, which are much easier to use than pins when attaching something so skinny as 1/4″ double fold bias tape. You can find them on Amazon here: Clover Wonder 10-Piece Clips
One thing I’ve mentioned here before is my daughter’s sensitivity to textures. She really will only wear jersey clothing, so this project is ideal for creating cozy stuff she will actually want to put on her body. If you have a kid that is also freaked out by things like seams, tags, and the like, I’d love to hear more about your challenges and any solutions that have worked for you. I have many more ideas for using old jersey sheets, tees, and sweats to create cute things for your baby.